My first memory of this dish goes to our canteen in my elementary school. Trust me, that isn't the best culinary memory. Secondly, my dad has never been a fan of traditional meat sauces and soups, therefore, my mother has not been making filled pepper often. During socialism, food techniques have been set up differently. We ate what the market offered at that time. Most of the sauces and soups have been thickened with a little help of flour, sometimes cornstarch and icing sugar. Today, I offer you a modern version of Slavic Filled Pepper Meatballs.
Filled Pepper, as I've known it, is very typical for Slovak, Czech and Hungarian cuisines. I used to enjoy it even in Bulgaria. However, Balkan cuisine skips the tomato sauce and dumpling part of it. This recipe has been inspired by my favourite Czech Chef couple "Kluci v akci". I like this recipe, because of its freshness, authenticity and yumminess, of course. The meat gets tender from the milk, and the use of raw rice is just brilliant. Little bit of sweetness, accompanied by a bit of heat. Work the taste to perfection. If you have some meat left, create beautiful large meatballs. Serve with my homemade bread dumplings and a glass of dry white wine. Dobrú chuť!
Slavic Filled Pepper Meatballs are suitable for kids from the age of 2. We call it funny tomato soup with meat and dumplings. Fulfilling comfort food - enjoy!
Total Time: 45 minutes + 1 hour cooking
The Filled Pepper Meatballs:
6 large white bell peppers, washed (you can make even spicy ones)
500g mixture of minced pork and lean beef
1 Kaiser Roll
100ml of milk
1 handful of rice
1 tablespoon of sweet smoked paprika powder and marjoram
A pinch of ground black pepper and sea salt
The Tomato Sauce:
A good splash of olive oil
2 large onions, peeled, cleaned and finely chopped
2 heaped tablespoons of tomato purée
Bouquet garni: 2 black peppers, 2 allspice, 1 bay leaf and 4 cloves
1 can of good whole tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, washed, cleaned and diced
A pinch of cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons of caster sugar
2 teaspoons of Vegeta Spice Natur (sea salt optional)
The Bread Dumplings as per in my Prague Beef Goulash Recipe:
1/2 cube of fresh yeast (around 10-20g)
1 mug of lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon of caster sugar
500g of coarse flour, sifted
A pinch of sea salt
1 whole egg
1 Kaiser Roll
The Filled Pepper
First, prepare the peppers. Cut the tops with stalks and the ends of them. Gently clean the insides from the seeds and set the peppers aside. In case of spicy peppers, it is always better to use gloves as the spiciness really stays on your hands for a long time.
In a medium metal bowl place the mince, bread, milk, rice and all the spices plus herbs: sweet paprika, marjoram, black pepper and sea salt.
Next, mix it with hands until you get a homogenous texture. Afterwards, fill the pepper tight. If you have some of the mixture left, create large meatballs.
The Tomato Sauce
Heat up the oil in a large non sticking casserole pan on high heat. Add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until they are darkened and softer.
Then, stir in the purée and add the bouquet garni. Smell it out and cover with the can of whole tomatoes plus the fresh tomatoes. Mix.
Pour in around 1 litre of hot boiling water and flavour up with sugar and Vegeta Spice.
Gently place all the filled peppers and meatballs in the sauce. All should be covered by the sauce, so you can see the tops of the peppers only.
Cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 1 hour on low heat.
The Bread Dumplings
Meanwhile the perpare of the filled peppers, activate the yeast. Sprinkle it in a coffee mug filled with lukewarm milk. Add 1 teaspoon of caster sugar and mix. Let it sit for about 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl place flour, sea salt and egg. Add activated yeast with a bit of milk. Start kneading elastic and non sticking dough. Add milk if necessary, I used the whole mug.
Once it is ready, cover with a clean cloth and let it sit for about 20 minutes in a warm place.
Next, knead it some more with a chopped Kaiser Roll. Sprinkle with some flour and cover with a clean cloth. Let it rise for 30 more minutes.
Then, cook it similarly to pasta in a large pot filled with salted hot boiling water. Create 2 big or 4 smaller Dumplings. Gently put it in and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes, flip in the half time.
Take The Dumplings out and poke them with a fork. Let them cool down for a bit and slice.
Prepare the plating: 1 Filled Pepper covered in Tomato Sauce, served with Bread Dumplings on site. Yummy and fulfilling!
Makes 6 serves.